Brad Lincoln – Yankee Hunter

By now you’ve read that the Pirates are allowing Brad Lincoln to explore the wonders of Yonge Street and Casa Loma in Toronto in exchange for giving Travis Snider the opportunity to eat at Primanti’s and gape in awe at Fallingwater.

My snap reaction is that I would have loved this trade in 2010 for the Pirates.  Taking away the context, the Pirates traded a reliever for a young corner outfielder with 4 years of control left.  However, adding in the context that exists in 2012 and I’m not sure this deal by itself is going to help the Pirates make a push for the playoffs.  In fact, it may have weakened them for a playoff run in 2012 by taking a key cog away from the shutdown bullpen.

At this point of the season, if a starter gives the bullpen a lead going into the 7th and I know it would be Lincoln-Grilli-Hanrahan, you could get one hand on the Jolly Roger (with some dramatics along the way, but it got done).  Now the Pirates will hope that Jared Hughes will step up his game another notch and that Chris Resop can become a dependable “pitch with a lead” guy in the 7th.

With Joel Hanrahan going into his final year of arbitration in 2013 and expected to garner around $7.5M, I was in favor of trading him in the offseason and having Grilli-Lincoln be the 8th/9th guys next year.  Does this move indicate that the Pirates may keep Hanrahan for 2013 with that inflated salary?

The Pirates will have Bryan Morris out of options going into the 2013 season, so he will be part of the bullpen mix.  He has the fastball-slider combo that profiles as a high-end setup guy.  Justin Wilson is moving closer to the bullpen every day and could be a weapon as a power lefty.  Victor Black, once he irons out some control kinks, can be a dominant reliever next year, too.  Replacing Lincoln moving forward is not my concern; it’s replacing him in 2012 that does.

As for Snider, the Pirates picked up a 24 year-old corner outfielder with power potential that has 4 years of team control.  He appears to be very susceptible to lefties, although this year all 3 of his major league homers are off of left-handers.  He is not fleet of foot so expect him to be in RF for the remainder of the year.  There is also a chance that the Pirates may be viewing him as a potential 1B option, too.  He has never received steady playing time in the majors with the Blue Jays, as his career high in games is only 82.

If this trade were made at the Winter Meetings this offseason (with the Pirates basking in glow of a playoff appearance), I would love it.  But right now at this time on the edge of the run up to the playoffs, I’m not sure that the Pirates didn’t set themselves back.

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About Kevin Creagh

Kevin Creagh resides in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and has been a Pirate fan since the mid 1980′s. Kevin joined Pirates Prospects in July 2010 and enjoys writing about the economic side of baseball decisions. Many of Kevin’s articles focus on the long-term decisions that the Pirates and other organizations may need to make in the future, in order to balance escalating player salaries with built-in payroll limitations. Kevin also enjoys following prospects throughout the Pirates’ minor league system and forecasting their potential to help the major league team.
  • JohnDreker

    I feel the same exact way, if this move is made two months from now, I’m all for it, but for a playoff run, I don’t see it helping

  • Greatone1210

    I think there is a lot of talk about playoffs and I understand why. But I just don’t think we have a team built for a strong playoff run. I am extremely happy it looks like we will break the streak of losing seasons and anything after that is gravy. But I would rather sell high on Hanrahan and get one or two really strong prospects (AAA or MLB-ready) to carry us farther into the future. This is just the beginning of something good. I have heard the argument that “rebuilding is over”. That is almost true. Our farm system has some high-ceiling guys but it wouldn’t hurt to maybe pick up another bat (SS, 1B) and maybe a SP. Doing this would allow us to contend farther into the future in my estimation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kirk.vandergrift Kirk Lee

      Pretty good point. I disagree that we should ignore this year’s playoff race, especially with the current standings and the ease of our remaining schedule, but I do agree that we shouldn’t ignore opportunities to strengthen our future chances… Especially by dealing Hanrahan, who I would rather have seen be dealt in this trade. Overall though, I think this trade accomplished something like what you are suggesting: building a little more for the future.

      • Greatone1210

        Let me clarify, I don’t think we should ignore this years playoff chase but I think a tempered enthusiasm is the right demeanor to have. I am not going to be heartbroken if we miss the playoffs. I will be heartbroken if we don’t finish with a winning record.

    • TonyPenaforHOF

      I agree. Even though I like the trade I would rather have moved Hanrahan for two good, young, close to MLB ready players and kept Lincoln.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirk.vandergrift Kirk Lee

    As Huntington said, sometimes you need to add and subtract. The Pirates were buyers with Rodrgiuez and did a little future-compromising. This move might offset that a bit. Also, I disagree that this makes us worse this year. Why will Morris be ready next year, but not now? Maybe the FO thinks he’s good to go and that had something to do with this trade. In any event, while it won’t be easy to replace Lincoln’s absolute shutdown performance, it should nevertheless be easy for the Pirates to replace him with a GOOD 7th inning reliever, which is enough. Meanwhile, Snyder has the potential to be a huge upgrade on McGehee/Presley/Sutton/Whoever he replaces in the lineup. It’s not a guarantee, but if he keeps putting up Carlos Pena/Pedro Alvarez style numbers then we just got a big time power hitter for RF, with albeit, a low OBP. That kind of guy adds WAY more value, right now even, than a dominant one-inning pitcher. What the Pirates did doesn’t necessarily hurt their chances right now, it merely rolls the dice on them. Snider could easily give us a huge push in the playoff race, or he could not and we lost a good reliever for the year. We pretty much knew what we were getting with Lincoln. Now, we don’t have that security, but we have the chance for a whole lot more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirk.vandergrift Kirk Lee

    Also, very few teams make the playoffs with pretty good starting pitching, very bad offense, and an outstanding bullpen. That’s what the Pirates had a few days ago. Relying on your bullpen to carry your team is foolish. If you have a chance to upgrade a very bad offense by weakening a dominant bullpen, I think it helps you in the long run 2 out of 3 times.

    • Greatone1210

      Agreed. Teams need a balance. If you tip it too far into one category, it is a big risk. Take a look at our SP. Dominant in the first half, now starting to be a little less reliable. So we add a piece to it with Wandy. Our offense has slumped a bit, add Snider for hopefully extra offense and defense. Brought Marte up to help out the same way. Since bullpen has been strong, trade a piece of it and promote someone from AAA. It’s like keeping multiple dishes spinning on dial rods all around you.

  • st1300b

    If you look a little closer at Sniders stats he doesn’t show nearly the strikeout issues that Pedro has with similar power capability. This is a significantly underated trade IMO and I believe will be viewed long term as Neal Huntington’s signature trade. I think that highly of Snider being added to this roster. The next viable position player coming from the minors is??? Nobody for a few years, that’s who – so unless you’re going to bring in an average free agent, you take advantage of a club like Toronto buying high on Lincoln.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=72405411 Ian Rothermund

      #freeadalberto!

      Lol.

  • http://twitter.com/StevefromYukuDU Yukudukes

    The thing is Lincoln hasn’t been used in the 7th inning role all that often. He’s been the 5th-7th, “keep it close” guy who comes in and pitches from behind in tight games. Or he’s been the old school multi inning closer with a big lead. If he were already the 7th or 8th inning guy, then I agree, I’d prefer them not make this deal now, but he hasn’t been. He’s basically been a low-leverage middle reliever with the exception of the showdown with Thome. Lincoln was great while miscast in his minor role and removing him from that role and replacing him with somebody like Qualls doesn’t really hurt as much as adding a young guy with 30+ HR potential who could ultimately be better than Pence this season and into the future helps even short run.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=72405411 Ian Rothermund

    Personally I’m a big fan of the long-term potential that was added by these trades. I also think they’ll help in the short term as well, maybe not as much as one of the rental players they could have overpaid for, but I think it will be enough. Im just sick now of the, try and hope you win now at all costs mentality. No, the prospects aren’t proven and we don’t know where they’ll end up down the road. However, with the high upside guys, you have the potential for a bright future; may e it works out, maybe it doesn’t. Without them though, you know exactly where they’ll be 3-4 years from now. I’m also willing to bet that the same people clammering for a big time trade are the same people that would abandon this team as soon as the Pirates starting sucking again because they couldn’t afford to resign Choo, Pence, or Upton.